How Long Should A Coffee Date Last? Saying No To Coffee Dates, Coffee vs Drink Dates, First Coffee Date Tips. Ideas

One of the most hotly debated topics when it comes to dating apps and online dating is the dreaded coffee date dilemma. Are coffee dates a good first date idea? Are coffee dates a waste of time? How long should coffee dates last? Are coffee dates low-effort?

The opinions are rather polarizing and there are benefits and drawbacks from them. I am here to highlight how to approach them, when they are a good idea, why coffee dates are the worst, how long coffee dates should last, what to wear for coffee dates and debate the options of coffee dates vs dinner dates and coffee dates vs drinks date.

With all things in life, nothing is absolute. Everything requires context. There are some situations where coffee first dates can be effective and cost-efficient. In some occasions, there is nothing more boring, unromantic and low-effort as a coffee date.

As a dating coach (seen in the NYT, WSJ & more), my focus is on getting people to date more efficiently and effectively. That means assessing first impressions (grooming, wardrobe, texting, date ideas and how to get second dates). More on my dating services here.

Related read: First Date Ideas

Coffee Cup Trio Art - Ground Coffee, Coffee Beans, Ground Coffee

Is Going For Coffee A Date? Is Coffee Date A Date? Coffee Date Meaning?

It really depends on the context. If you meet on a dating app then the intention is yes (some might argue no regardless of context) but it can just mean grabbing nothing if asked by a colleague, friend or social contact.

Typically, meeting for coffee is not a clear-but activity. How you meet and the relationship to the other person matters. Unless you want to make it clear about your intentions, there is no need to feel uncertain or confused about grabbing coffee.

Related read: Why Am I Not Getting 2nd Dates?


Coffee Dates Are A Good Idea – Are Coffee Dates A Good First Date? 

Coffee dates are approached as a method of screening rather than an actual date. Some people treat them as a way to have a practice date before to committing something more involved. The truth is, many women and men like coffee dates but for different reasons.

Some guys prefer a coffee date as they can be expensive and most etiquette guides and social norms have them paying for first dates. Dinner dates can be expensive and if you are going on several first dates they can add up. Similarly, drink dates can pose some risk. Alcohol can affect judgment.


Are Coffee Dates Awkward? Are Coffee Dates Low Effort?

Girls like coffee dates because it provides an easy way to leave early if they aren’t feeling great about the date, they require less effort to get ready and dolled up and it allows for more versatility to do day time dates without getting in the way of social calendars.

Yes, dates can add up and be expensive but also a drain on your calendar. Coffee dates allow people to go on more first dates but at the same time, at what cost? Some people are likely to go on more coffee dates because they are low-risk and don’t require that much effort but are they worth it?

Related read: Online Dating First Dates

Bumble Date, Coffee Date Idea, Cheap

Are Coffee Dates A Bad Idea, Low-Effort, Cheap? Are Coffee Dates Lazy?

Coffee dates can suck. Who drinks that much coffee anyways? How many times have you gone on a first date only to have your date order water? Who does that? Yes, it’s hard to get excited about a coffee date when your date looks like he/she rolled out of bed or happens to schedule back to back coffee dates at the same cafe.

Who wants to kiss after having coffee breath anyways? Coffee dates can be anti-climatic. Normally coffee dates are reserved for meeting with colleagues, annoying request from that Linkedin connection who you don’t remember where you met or someone looking to pitch you there latest start-up idea.

Coffee dates can feel so mundane – think Groundhog Day. A coffee date signals that you are worth meeting up for 30 minutes max perhaps but not enough to go on a date with during their precious weekends or nights out. It’s hard to be excited with that outlook no matter who you are.

Don’t get me started on that awkwardness of going on a first date at a cafe or coffee shop where everyone knows that you are on a first date. More lighting and more overheard conversations can be more intrusive.

Related read: How To Keep The Conversation Going On Dating Apps

Coffee Date Length, How Long Should A Coffee Date Last? Coffee First Date Questions

Coffee dates, at a minimum, should last more than 30 minutes so they don’t feel like a business meeting but what happens after you finish your coffee? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR COFFEE IS COLD? These are the pressing questions people ask.

It’s hard to extend coffee dates beyond that time without ordering more coffee but having options to extend or combine coffee dates is key. A farmer’s market or scenic walk can allow both parties to extend the coffee date if they are enjoying the date without further obligation.

Even though coffee dates are straight-forward, they don’t have to be low effort. Picking something beyond a Starbucks is a must when possible. For some folks, there may not be many options. Doing some research can help elevate a coffee date for all. Come ready to talk, ask questions and share things about yourself.

Be present, don’t look at your watch, leave room to extend the date if things go well, don’t order before your date gets there and don’t feel obligated to start the date if your date doesn’t appear like their profile. In fact, more people need to report people for lying in their profiles about their appearance.

Coffee Dates vs Drink Dates, Coffee Dates vs Dinner Dates, Coffee Dates vs Video Dates

I am not a fan of dinner dates but I am a fan of drink dates that extend to dinner dates. No one wants to get stuck on a bad date more than they have to stick around for. Too often, people use old photos or photos from misleading angles and that has led to a rise in coffee dates.

If you are resourceful and diligent, you can reduce being catfished by learning how to do your own background checks on dates. Similarly, if you have trouble screening profiles for old or outdated photos, do a video date first. If you do decide to do a video date first, that is fine but the second date should not be a coffee date – you already had a screener.

Drink dates are the best in my opinion because you can make them last as long as a coffee date but you have the option to extend the date if things go well, possibly grabbing some small bites or dinner if you are seated at the bar.

Drink dates allow you to observe crowds, people watch, have more favorable lighting and have more options for menus which allows you to have dialogue about what to order. Drink dates allow you to order something you are excited about and that excitement can shine through which is helpful if you need a little liquid courage.

Related read: First Date Etiquette (Who Pays, Rescheduling)


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What To Do On A First Date? Coffee Date Alternatives

A woman can learn a lot about a guy not so much by how much money he spends on the first date, but rather the effort involved and planning around it. There are plenty of first date ideas that are cheap or free, but they require planning, effort and social connections.

Customizing dates to tailor your location, weather, day/time, interests and available activities is best. When you try to standardize dates, it can signal low effort and being lazy AF.


How To Dress For Coffee Dates, What To Talk About On Coffee Dates

Regardless of your opinion on coffee dates, sometimes that’s the only option you might have if you want to see the person whether it’s their preference, lack of availability or uncertainty around you. If someone is too busy to go on a date with you, it could also mean they are too busy to date. While not certain, don’t dismiss that possibility.

The goal of a first date is to gather insight, learn about each other and enjoy your time – this is no different from any other date. Try to liven up coffee dates or research possible options to extend dates if possible.

Similarly, some people don’t want to do coffee dates – that is fine. Everyone is different. Every decision and date idea will lead to some level or rejection. Deal with it. Your goal is not to impress everyone nor is it to get a second date. Your goal is to see if you want to go on another date – nothing more, nothing less.

When it comes to dress, you should dress to impress, always. That means many things to different people but you should not dress like a slob. First impressions matter. You should show that you put in time and effort to meet someone. Showing up in yoga pants or pajamas can signal low-effort and frankly a lack of respect for the other person.

Related read: What To Wear In Your Dating Profile Pictures

Why You Shouldn’t Accept A Coffee Date, Saying No To Coffee Dates

Everyone is different, some people excel in certain environments. Establish boundaries and don’t bend them for anyone. Use how someone reacts to coffee dates as a clue about their personality.

If someone asks you for a coffee date and you don’t want to go on one, tell them, but don’t expect them to change their boundaries for you. Respect their choices.

You have the right to request a coffee date, as someone has the right to decline one for any reason. You do you, however, you are not doing well on coffee dates or not getting second dates, take note.

Doesn’t mean you need to change your date ideas but perhaps you ability to be present, screen profiles, read people or know what you want.


Coffee Date But Don’t Drink Coffee – Coffee Date Etiquette

Order tea, order a juice, suggest another location. It’s not that hard, stop overthinking this. Yes, you wait to order. If you are concerned about who pays, then order for yourself. The only exception is if your date is late and you are a miserable bloke without it in the morning.


Coffee Date vs Dinner Date, Is A Coffee Date A Good First Date? 

Everyone is different. If dinner dates don’t work for you, don’t do them – simple. With that said, you might lose out on dates as a result. Stop dwelling on those that cancel your date invitation because they think you are cheap or lazy. Lots of women think guys are not worth it if they only suggest coffee dates.

Coffee vs Drinks First Date; Coffee Date vs Drinks Date

This will depend on several factors, including:



-timing of date

-your ability to plan a good date in either situation

-what you fee most comfortable doing (as well as your date).

Some women prefer a coffee date to avoid long, bad dates. Some women enjoy a cocktail, glass of wine or beer. You need to know where to go in any situation, as you can fail in either situation. In my coaching sessions, I provide ideas for both and how to decide which one is best based on your circumstances.

Final Thoughts – Coffee Dates, Do Women Hate Coffee Dates? I Hate Coffee Dates

You can’t please everyone and until you are ready to accept that fact, you won’t be happy with dating. Focus on those that agree to your date ideas but if you do a coffee date, be ready to extend it, don’t make it boring.

Low commitment dates do not have to be low effort dates. Be unique, have fun – plenty of creative ways to make these dates more enjoyable and less work-like. 

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About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie is a dating coach for men & women in San Francisco (clients in NYC, LA, Chicago, & beyond ), as seen in the NYT & Bumble). He helps w/ profiles, photos, wardrobe, messaging, date ideas, red flags, lifestyle choices, hobbies, grooming/hygiene, communication, social skills & offline efforts.